Dem Senator to AG: The Word ‘Spying’ Could Cause Everyone in Cable News to ‘Freak Out’

By Melanie Arter | April 10, 2019 | 3:33pm EDT
Attorney General William Barr (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

( - Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) asked Attorney General William Barr at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Wednesday to “rephrase” his use of the word “spying” to characterize the government targeting the Trump campaign.

“I want to give you a chance to rephrase something you said, because I think when the attorney general of the United States uses the word ‘spying,’ it’s rather provocative, and in my view unnecessarily inflammatory, and I know what you’re getting at, because you have explained yourself in terms of answering Senator Graham’s questions and the questions of others,” Schatz said.


“Do you want to rephrase what you’re doing, because I think the word ‘spying’ could cause everybody in the cable news ecosystem to freak out, and I think it’s necessary for you to be precise with your language here. You normally are, and I want to give you a chance to be especially precise here,” the senator said.



“I’m not sure of all the connotations of that word that you’re referring to but, you know so-- unauthorized surveillance. I want to make sure there’s no unauthorized surveillance. Is that more appropriate in your mind?” Barr asked.

“This is your call. I really did want to give you a chance to say it how you wanted to say it and make sure that you didn’t misspeak, because you talked for a long time. You had yesterday, and I want to make sure that you use the words that you want to use,” Schatz said.

As reported, Barr told Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) that “spying” occurred during the 2016 election.

“So you’re not suggesting though that spying occurred?” Shaheen asked.

“I think there was – spying did occur. Yes, I think spying did occur, but the question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated, and I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that,” the attorney general said.

“I think it’s my obligation. Congress is usually very concerned about intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies staying in their proper lane, and I want to make sure that happened,” Barr said.



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